News from the Smarty Education Corner: We recently reached out to our Smarty Education Expert, Jackie Pace of Huntington Learning Center and asked her this question:
“My middle school child is performing average and I can’t tell what is difficult for him or what is lack of effort. Either way I see him flying under the radar and fear that he will be far behind in high school.”
Here’s Jackie’s expert response:
You are wise to be concerned about your middle-schooler. What you are describing is an example of watching a child slip through the cracks. Many times a child is accused of being lazy when really he is missing skills that are preventing him from succeeding.
How can you as a parent do a quick assessment of whether he is not trying because he doesn’t know what to do or whether he is lazy? The first thing to ask yourself is if he seems to be a bright young man. Is he able to answer questions quickly and appropriately? Is he attentive to details of situations around him and conversant with his friends and family? We are born with intelligence; this is not something we are taught. If you feel that he is a bright young man but not living up to his potential, you need to give him the opportunities to do so. Being “average” is not a bad thing unless your child has the potential to be better than average. We need to stay focused on allowing a child to be the best he can be. To do this, we first must determine if he could improve by working harder or if he is missing skills that are preventing him from succeeding.
If he is obviously a bright young man, you should question why his schoolwork is only mediocre. Maybe he is bored and not paying attention in class. But, more than likely, even though he is quite bright, he has not acquired the skills that would help him be successful in school. It would be wise to have an assessment done that would measure the levels of his skills to see if they are appropriate for his age and grade. If skills are missing, help him close the gaps immediately because those gaps only grow bigger each year.
Look closely at his study habits. Is he doing his homework but not studying? Is his study time devoted exclusively to studying? Be a detective and determine if his study time is really spent in studying. Cell phones and iPads are frequent intrusions into kids’ study times. Structure his study environment in such a way that intrusions cannot happen. If his highest grades in school are based on completion of homework successfully rather than on tests, this is definitely a reflection of weak skills, possibly his not knowing how to study.
Don’t assume he is not trying without first addressing any weak skills. Middle school is the first major step toward his future. Uncover any possible stumbling blocks that will affect his high school and college experiences.
Call us at 704-522-7511 in Charlotte or 704-896-3931 in Huntersville to have an assessment scheduled to determine if there are gaps, exactly what gaps exist and how to close them. Don’t let him fall through the cracks!